The Golding Centre commenced in 2000 as a response to the Australian Catholic Bishops’ project on The Participation of Women in the Australian Catholic Church in the late 1990s. Many proposals were submitted which implicitly indicated the need for the recovery of women’s history but it was the proposal submitted by Dr Rosa MacGinley and Dr Sophie McGrath that explicitly stated this need.
Following the launch of the Bishop’s Report in Canberra, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Sheehan invited Dr McGrath to meet with him in Sydney. Subsequently Professor Sheehan referred Dr McGrath to Professor Grichting, Vice-Chancellor (Research) who was most supportive and, though he was soon retiring went through the formalities of enabling us to commence our “mission”. His successor Professor John Coll, likewise, did everything he could to guide and support us. Professor Tony Kelly (Head of the School of Theology) and his associates were also welcoming.
Initially we commenced as the Golding Project for Women’s History, Theology and Spirituality and in 2003, in the light of our activities, were granted the status of a Centre, which was named to honour Annie and Belle Golding and their married sister Kate Dwyer, Catholic women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose activism was underpinned by wide reading and in-depth research. Among numerous other activities they were key players in the campaign for votes for women in NSW and subsequently at the Commonwealth level..
The Founding Golding Centre Team consisted of: Dr Kim Power (Melbourne Campus), Dr Sophie McGrath rsm (Strathfield Campus) and Dr Rosa MacGinley ibvm (Queensland Campus). Key contacts were established with interested staff on the Ballarat, North Sydney and Canberra campuses.
Thirty-five Religious Congregations made financial contributions to establish the Centre and they are regularly informed of its progress.
Owing to the retirement of Dr Kim Power and Dr Rosa MacGinley ibvm the Centre now operates from Strathfield with Dr Sophie McGrath rsm maintaining contact with the other campuses.
Over the last eighteen years seven mature-aged women have successfully submitted a doctoral thesis in the field of women’s history and another is currently getting close to completion. During this time sixteen annual colloquia have been held to share and celebrate successful doctoral theses and publications from within ACU and beyond. This is designed to contribute to the establishment of a strong research culture within ACU.